Maple Leaf buying organic, antibiotic-free poultry plants
Maple Leaf Foods is purchasing a pair of poultry plants and associated supply from privately-owned Cericola Farms.
The Cericola plants, at Bradford, Ont. and Drummondville, Que., together process about 32 million kg of chicken per year.
Maple Leaf has also entered into an agreement to secure 100 per cent of the processed chicken volume from Cericola’s primary processing plant located in Schomberg, Ont., and holds an option to acquire this asset and associated plant supply in three years.
“Cericola is a leader in raised without antibiotics and organic chicken. This acquisition will build Maple Leaf’s market leadership in these value-added categories and enable us to meet growing consumer demand,” Maple Leaf CEO Michael McCain said in a release.
Cericola Farms’ founder Mary Cericola said the company’s vision over the past 60 years “has been to provide wholesome and natural poultry products to our customers. It is this tradition of excellence that aligns Maple Leaf and Cericola.”
Maple Leaf said the acquisition provides the company with additional supply and value-added processing capability to advance its leadership in higher value categories.
Maple Leaf Foods has transitioned most of its flagship Maple Leaf Prime chicken brand to Prime RWA, where the Canadian market is growing at about 25 per cent annually.
Chicken is the most consumed and fastest growing meat protein segment in North America. Cericola specializes in air-chilled processing of antibiotic-free and animal byproduct-free (“AABF”) and organic poultry products.
The deal is to be financed through a combination of cash-on-hand and drawings under the existing credit facility. The deal is expected to close in August, subject to normal closing requirements including Competition Bureau review.